This post is marked as OLD. "Confidence without Attitude" and the other Defining Principles are most certainly still important at Haas, but this particular essay is not current. For a list of today's Haas essay questions and a discussion of where they're at today, check out our UC-Berkeley Haas page here on the blahg.
Confidence without Attitude…
Boy, we wish!
“Confidence without attitude” is one of Haas’ new “principles.” (UC-Berkeley recently launched a new curriculum for their MBA program – but it looks an awful lot like their old curriculum – it strikes EssaySnark as some re-branding, rather than a real new product – but that’s a post for another day.)
Yes, bschools definitely try to screen out the real jerks from the application process. A big buzzword is emotional intelligence. Part of the Haas approach now is this new essay question asking for a story of how the applicant demonstrated one of their core values. And then you have to go study the definitions and figure out what they mean. It’s all a little cryptic and confusing — much worse than bschool essays normally are even on a bad day. But, EssaySnark is certain that they’ll be able to eliminate a large number of applicants from the running just based on a poor showing on this essay. It’s a tough one to get right. Because first, you have to understand the question.
Apparently some of our clients have trouble with that.
Here’s something to consider if you’re struggling with this sort of thing: Think about a time when you were working with someone who was NOT “confident without arrogant.” In other words, think about a time when you had to work with a cocky pushy know-it-all type. EssaySnark guesses that you’ve dealt with someone like that before. (EssaySnark hopes that someone was not you.)
OK. Think about what the situation was. Think about how they ACTED. Think about how it made you feel.
Now think about when YOU were in a tough situation and you ACTED EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE WAY. Where you were polite and open-minded and considered. Where you still took charge or made some important contribution or led the way somehow. You can’t have just been all polite and kind sitting on the sidelines. You had to have DONE something.
How did you get your idea adopted, that decision made, your agenda advanced, even when the stakes were high and tempers were flaring, based on being a cool-headed, reasoned, MATURE human being?
This is the type of story that could work well for this.
Don’t get hung up on the “evidence and analysis” bit – this isn’t supposed to be a story about how you evaluated a dataset or found a bug in the code when nobody else could figure it out. This should be about how you DEALT WITH PEOPLE in a way that was effective and maybe empowering and all that other buzzwordy corporate-speak stuff.
Some of the best essays for this principle? When you had to deal with people on a different level of the organization (managing up, managing down) and you were a real team player, even when they were wrong and stubborn and you wanted to rip their heads off. It’s gotta be a success story, though. And it really should give an indication of how you could’ve been arrogant or some other unseemly thing, and you weren’t. Because you’re above all that. You’re rock star Haas material and it shows.
UPDATED 8/8/11: EssaySnark is pleased to announce the SnarkStrategies Guide for UC-Berkeley Haas available now in softcover; more editions (Kindle etc.) in The Bookstore!